Thursday, June 26, 2008

The inexplicable 11%

I love reading poll data. You sometimes see things that the reporters ignore when they write a story about the poll.

A Eurobaromoter poll conducted after the Lisbon vote doesn't tell us a lot. I don't think so anyway. It does, however, raise questions either about some of the people who vote or about polls.

Try this. Eleven percent of the 'No' voters believed the Lisbon Treaty was "good for Ireland". What were those 11% (98,000 people) thinking? Why would they vote 'No' if they believed the Treaty was good for the country? I can't come up with any reasonable explanation as to why such a large number of people might have voted this way.

Now before you get too excited, before you start screaming about those numbskulls who make up the 11% and how they cost the 'Yes' side the vote there's this: eleven percent (odd symmetry, no?) of the 'Yes' voters believed the Treaty was "bad for Ireland". Now it's possible that these people could at least have reasonably felt that the Treaty was bad for Ireland, but good for the EU. So maybe there's some explanation for these people. Still, that would mean 80,000 voters were willing to say 'Yes' to something for the sake of the EU at Ireland's expense. Doubtful.

These figures are so strange that I can't help but wonder about the poll itself. How clear were the questions? How representative the sample(s)? 180,000 strange birds voting in the referendum just seems too outlandish. To me this calls the whole poll into question. The media may be running with it, but I would suggest that the government should not be overly dependent on it.